Before getting started, we’d like to offer our congratulations.
Reading this post means that you’re focused on your company’s online presence, and that you’re aware of the larger market that your business competes in - which means you're on the right track for success and growth online. Way to go!
We can’t stress enough how important keeping an eye on the competition is. Focusing only on your own goals without considering what other businesses in your industry are up to is a big mistake.
We’ve put together a four-point checklist to help you start examining how others in your field are performing online. These tips will help you create an online marketing plan of your own to capitalize on opportunities in your market.
Note: This post is based in part on Website Muscle’s newest eBook, How to Spy on Your Competitors. Click the link to get the free eBook now.
4 Tips for Keeping an Eye on the Competition
1) Check Their Sites Every Quarter
This first tip can be boiled down to one word: Look.
To keep an eye on the competition, you have to look at what they are doing!
If you haven’t done so already, finding your online rivals is simple - just Google the product or service your business provides, and see who else comes up.
For example, if you’re a donut shop in Costa Mesa, search “donut shop Costa Mesa” and look at the first page of results. Since that’s where you want to be, you should see who’s there already, and what you can learn from them.
We recommend checking your competitor’s websites about once every three months to keep up with their activities. If you see something that could help your own business, take a screenshot and bring it to your friendly neighborhood web designer to find out how you can use these tactics in your own business.
2) Examine Their Content
There’s more to inspect on your competitor’s sites than just a skim through the homepage. Click through the important pages - About, Services, Contact, Frequently Asked Questions, blogs, etc. - and look for elements that are compelling and hold your interest. Here’s a hint - if you find a page and think to yourself, “We should do that!” you’re on the right track.
Ask yourself the following questions while examining your competitor’s content:
Is their information….
- Easy To Understand?
Maintaining your competitive edge online means taking what your rivals are doing right and making it your own, and taking advantage of areas that your competitors aren’t performing as well in.
3) Consider The Keywords
Now that you know who your competitors are and what they’re doing on their own sites, it’s time to look at the keywords they’re using to rank highly.
Both services include a free version of the tool, but you’ll need to subscribe and pay for access to see all of the available data.
4) Are They a Rival or a Potential Partner?
This strategy is more high-level than the nuts-and-bolts information above, but it could lead to the biggest payoff. Creating partnerships with other local small businesses that don’t compete with yours can create cross-marketing and promotional opportunities that you would miss out on otherwise.
Let’s go back to the donut shop example. Maybe you discover a nearby bookstore that holds coffee-and-donut reading groups for local bibliophiles while you’re searching for competitors.
Instead of chasing these readers with targeted web content, you could reach out to the bookstore owner directly and offer to provide donuts for the group meetings - in exchange for promotion during the events or a poster for your shop in the bookstore’s window.
Another option: create a loyalty program in which your shop offers a discount to customers with receipts from the bookstore. Collecting their email addresses as part of the loyalty program will also help to build your own customer base.
This is a great opportunity to get creative and network with other local businesses while promoting your own. Supporting local small businesses and events also shows your customers that you’re authentically interested in the well-being of the community, which can lead to positive word-of-mouth and an improved reputation among potential clientele.